“Government” − a Myth

By | October 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

      Don Kates

We see it on the news virtually every night: yet another in an endless succession of colossal mistakes by “government” agencies, often with horrendously tragic results. Innumerable examples can be cited from events in the national news: 9/11; the Enron and other major business scandals; etc.

But I want to discuss a micro-example that occurred in a city near me. A 12-year-old Oregon girl named Ashley Pond reported to a teacher that she was the subject of ongoing sexual assaults by an adult neighbor named Ward Weaver. The matter was immediately reported by the horrified teacher to the so-called Oregon Department of Child Protective Services. When nothing was done the teacher reported it twice more, and Ashley’s mother also reported it three separate times. Nothing happened, because in each instance the matter was referred to the same state employee who did not think it worth referring to the local police, though the agency regulations required that all such matters be so referred.

But this really made no difference for when Ashley disappeared the police belatedly were informed, but did nothing. Nor did they bring Weaver under serious scrutiny six weeks later when another girl, Miranda Gaddis, age 13, disappeared from the apartment building in which Ashley had lived. Weaver was only arrested when a naked young woman he had raped and tried to murder escaped from his house and flagged down a passing car. At that point a belated search of Weaver’s rented premises uncovered both girls’ bodies.

There ensued an orgy of false denials and finger pointing among the various “government” agencies involved. Eventually the head of the state agency took the unusual step of actually admitting that its employee was at fault. At the same time he announced multiple new regulations for handling such reports in the future. These will prove no more effective than the previous police report regulation which the agency employee violated.

I place quotation marks around “government” because it is a fundamentally false concept. It disguises from us the truth about the endless succession of colossal public agency mistakes reported in newscasts virtually every night. The truth is that there is no such thing as “government.” There are only the tens, scores, or even hundreds or thousands of people employed by agencies. Like people in general, these employees are sometimes corrupt and many are lazy, and all are fallible.

Remember Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis, not just as little girls who never got to grow up, but as instructive examples. People who place faith in “government” are instead just relying on other people disguised by a name and training regime that sometimes make them more reliable, and sometimes less. The more vital the interests you abandon to the sole protection of government, the nearer you are to the fate of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis.

The late Don Kates was an attorney and law professor. He was active in the civil-rights movement, and was an outstanding advocate of the Second Amendment.

Editor’s Note:

No, government isn’t a myth – it is all too real. Don Kates’ point is that government is not all-powerful Big Daddy, capable of solving all our problems and making our lives safe and happy. As George Washington taught us, “Government is like fire, a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

Don Kates was typically lucid in describing this glaring example of government incompetence. There are many other examples, which may be less glaring but equally dangerous. All of them illustrate the underlying delusion of advocates of big government. Whether they are extremists like communists or fascists, or more moderate like progressives, they all suffer from the same delusion.

Big-government proponents look upon us ordinary people as too stupid, ignorant, and childlike to manage our own affairs. But somehow, as soon as an individual is elected to office or appointed to the bureaucracy, he or she is suddenly imbued with the intelligence, the knowledge, and the wisdom to manage the affairs of thousands or millions of others.

In the Middle Ages, people believed that when a king was crowned and anointed by religious authorities, he was empowered by God to rule over the nation. But we are not superstitious peasants. No, even worse, many of us are university educated. We studied Plato’s Republic, and learned that a few “intellectual elite” should decide matters for everyone. We were taught by leftist professors, who tainted their lectures and reading lists with leftist propaganda.

I went through pre-med, medical school, internship, residency, and two fellowships, and then practiced and taught for years in a large university and public hospital. I have a clear idea of how to run a medical oncology service. I have a vague idea of how to run a hospital. But I have no idea at all of how to run a health-care system for all 328 million Americans. And what is more, I don’t know of anyone who does know how.

But if I don’t know how to run a socialized health-care system, how could graduates of law schools, business schools, or political science or economics programs know how? To believe that they could is to engage in magical thinking.

Exactly who would run this system? The “experts” who ran Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and many of the biggest banks into the ground? To quote veteran automotive journalist David E. Davis, “When the MBAs replaced the engineers as masters of GM’s universe, everything went to hell.” Now these MBAs, economists, and politicians want to run everyone’s health care. They want to test their theories and computer programs on us.

But I prefer to be cared for by a physician, not by an algorithm. I prefer to be cared for by a professional who profits if I live, not by faceless bureaucrats who profit if I die before I collect much Social Security or Medicare.

Nobody is intelligent, talented, or wise enough to make life-and-death decisions for 328 million people. Let the federal government do what the Constitution empowers it to do, especially in regard to national defense. Let it act as a referee to ensure that people interact voluntarily. Let it provide a safety net for those who genuinely can’t get along on their own. First of all, let it demonstrate that it can fulfill its primary duty of protecting its citizens.

But otherwise, let the federal government allow us to interact as we please. Let us decide what kind of light bulbs and toilets we can buy, what kind of dishwashing detergent and shower heads we can use, and whether we can get salt shakers, big sodas, or drinking straws at a restaurant. Let parents and local school boards decide how our children should be educated.

If we are in an unfamiliar area, we can be forgiven if we make a wrong turn. But if we have been in an area all our lives, it is clearly our fault. All our lives we have been observing the Postal Service, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Internal Revenue Service, and Child Protective Services.

We waited in line at the Post Office while workers stood around chatting.

We waited three hours at DMV to renew our vehicle registration, after they deposited our mailed-in check but failed to process the renewal.

We were mystified by incomprehensible tax forms that we had to sign under criminal penalties.

We watched TV and saw reports of children returned to abusive parents − or simply lost − by what is euphemistically called Child Protective Services.

We wondered what kind of thoughtless, negligent, uncaring people could act like that. We wondered how they could hold government jobs.

And if that weren’t enough, we watched the senatorial circus as Judge Kavanaugh was bullied by people whose incompetence was exceeded only by their rudeness and self-righteous arrogance. If they can treat a judge on the second-highest court in the land so shabbily, how will they treat ordinary people like us?

If we empower similar individuals to control our health care and other crucial aspects of our lives, we will have no one but ourselves to blame. And if we allow unelected judges with lifetime tenure to make life-changing decisions for us, without regard for our Constitution as actually written, we will suffer nostalgia looking back at the days when we had a republic.

We must avoid the dangerous delusion that sitting behind a government desk endows one with wisdom. From long experience, I can testify that the only thing it endows one with is a wider posterior. And that, even for a bureaucrat, is not the location of the brain.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.


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